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THE NETTE EFFECT: A matter of life and death


ANTOINETTE CONNELL

THE NETTE EFFECT:  A matter of life and death

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A DISCUSSION in the newsroom recently about ageing turned up some interesting feelings.

Some of us don’t want to die but can’t stand the idea of the living to a feeble stage.

But the shocker came from BN, who has made up his mind that living past 75 years made no practical sense. He is quite prepared to exit this life at 75.

Mind you, last I heard his father lived into his 90s so I think he might find himself in a bit of a quandary for about two decades while awaiting his fate. Nevertheless BN’s admission that he had a cut-off date left a couple of us bewildered.

“But what,” asked someone, “if you live past 75?”

“Well . . . ,” BN responded without giving a clear indication of what his next move might be.

Then he explained he could not see the sense in living on after working and completing certain life activities.

Cremation

CM, on the other hand, is afraid of ageing but doesn’t care much for the alternative that would halt that process. All in all, no one can decide on whether they truly want to live long or is it that they just fear what is to follow. CM is entertaining thoughts of cremation, which caused me to wonder if that isn’t just a warm-up for her fate on the other side. Just wondering.

I suppose if we all knew where we were headed that would bring a measure of comfort and allow us to exit this world without kicking and screaming into the afterlife.

Instead, we try to hold on to life as long as possible, and this has led to more claims of discovering the fountain of youth and the secrets to longevity.

But what are the experts saying? And by experts I mean those who have defied the
odds, say, by 100 to one – the centenarians.

In Barbados so far for the year we’ve had four marking their 100th birthdays; Joseph Greaves, Lillian Walters-Bishop, Edith Wilkinson and Phyllis Washburn. The refrain is the same God first, diet and hard work as a combination for their long lives.

They joined hundreds worldwide who have survived wars, lived without computers, foregone superfast vehicles and had limited contact with technology. And, believe it or not, young people, their world didn’t end. Far from that, they lived for an entire century.

But apparently there are some triggers to avoid if you expect to prolong your life – it is something we’ve long known: certain people can kill you.

A story in the Huffington Post circulating about two weeks ago from the oldest living woman in Scotland advised that in order to live long women should avoid men. Actually that wasn’t all. She also instructed us to eat our porridge.

On the other hand, the advice from a male supercentenarian recommended whiskey and wild women.

I was trying to decide whether the advice of the two oldsters ran counter to each other. However, it does not appear so.

Never married

At 109, Jessie Gallan, who never married, said the secret was staying away from men.

“They’re just more trouble than they’re worth,” concluded Gallan.

Along with that, she also “made sure that I got plenty of exercise, ate a nice warm bowl of porridge every morning and have never gotten married”.

But what do you make of that in relation to the oldest living woman Misao Okawa of Japan, who is 116 years and 334 days. She has been a widow for 83 years!

That her husband died in 1931 and she did not remarry means she has spent the rest of her life without a partner, giving weight to Gallan’s view about avoiding men in order to live long.

At last count there were 58 supercentenarians, those who have reached the age of 110 and beyond – and just about four of them were men.

So on this matter I think we’d be better served taking the advice of the women.

Antoinette Connell is a News Editor.
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